Sep 152012
 

Who doesn’t like a fresh salsa to eat alongside Mexican food or tortilla chips? Although I’m always up for a nice and spicy salsa, I rarely make my own. This summer, Anil’s 30th birthday party gave me the perfect opportunity to change that. I explored with avocados, pineapple, and peaches. Instead of giving you exact measurements, I think it’s better to just give you some guidelines, since the outcome of these salsas highly depend on how spicy or sweet you want these to be. You don’t need any recipes, all you need is some time for  a bit of trial and error, I promise! Here’s what I came up with:

Avocado Wasabi Salsa

Take a few of your favorite avocados, add some tomatoes, finely chopped cilantro and onion, jalapeños, and lime or lemon juice. Yep, you read that right, all the ingredients you would normally use to make a nice and robust guacamole. Now here’s the secret ingredient: wasabi! Be careful with the number of jalapeños you add here since you don’t want to make this too spicy to eat. Gradually add about a drop of wasabi paste (found in many Asian stores as well as regular grocery stores) to the mixture and keep taste testing until you find your desired level of spiciness. Lastly, don’t forget to add salt to taste!

 

Pineapple Jalapeno Salsa

For this salsa, you can either use very finely chopped fresh pineapple, or even the small, 1-cup fruit bowls of pineapple (with all-natural juice, no added real or fake sugars). Either one will work, but you’ll want to briefly run these through your food chopper for to make sure the pineapple is not too chunky. Before you do that, add some fresh jalapenos, again, the number you add here, will largely depend on your spice level tolerance and the spiciness level of your jalapenos. I used ½ jalapeno per cup of crushed pineapple. Seed and chop about half a Roma tomato and then briefly run all three ingredients through your food chopper. If your pineapple is too sour, simply add about a spoon of sugar to sweeten the salsa a bit. Season with some fresh salt and pepper and you’re good to go!

 

Ginger Peach Salsa

I love the flavors of sweet peaches, paired with  slightly spicy and warm ginger. For this recipe, peel a one-inch piece of ginger and briefly run it through a food chopper with 2 cups of fresh peaches (skin and pit removed), or 2 of the fruit bowls of peaches (with all-natural juice, no added real or fake sugars), and half a Roma tomato (seeded and chopped). Want more ginger flavor? Simply add some ginger powder, about 1/8 of a teaspoon at a time, as you don’t want the ginger to be too overpowering. You can also add a bit of sugar to sweeten this salsa. The exact flavor totally depends on how peachy or gingery you want this to be. Before you serve, just make sure that the ginger piece is fully chopped.

 

 Posted by at 2:05 PM
Sep 152012
 

I’m a big fan of sweet potatoes, not only because they taste good, but because they’re high in vitamin C, B6, A, fiber, iron, and magnesium as well. The next time you make sweet potato fries and want to do things slightly different, try sprinkling on some garam masala and salt on your fries. The warmth and slight spiciness of the masala goes together great with the sweetness of sweet potatoes. My favorite brand of store-bought oven sweet potato fries is Trader Joe’s, but many other brands are great in the oven as well. You can cut up your own fries too, though this is often a bit too time consuming to do during the week for me. Give it a try and let me know what you think! Excellent in summer or fall :-)

 Posted by at 2:00 PM
Sep 152012
 

I love this baked zucchini because it’s extremely easy to prepare and is delicious as a side dish. As a bonus, it looks great as well, so can easily transform from weekday dish into weekend entertaining side. Serve with your favorite meat or protein, or other main dish and some garlic bread.

Ingredients (for 2 to 4 people)

2 medium zucchinis
a cup of grape tomatoes, washed and halved
½ cup grated Parmesan or Pecorino cheese
breadcrumbs
salt, pepper, garlic powder, oregano and crushed red pepper to taste
olive oil to drizzle
a few fresh basil leaves, finely chopped (optional)

 

Directions

1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees

2. Half each zucchini lengthwise and scoop out and discard the seeds

3. Place halved zucchinis on a baking sheet and season with salt, pepper, garlic powder, oregano, and crushed red pepper

4. Drizzle zucchinis with olive oil and place grape tomato halves in the middle of each zucchini. Then sprinkle with breadcrumbs, followed by the grated Parmesan or Pecorino cheese

5. Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes

6. Take out of the oven and sprinkle basil leaves (if desired) over the dish. Serve warm and enjoy!

 Posted by at 1:45 PM
Apr 302012
 

One of the things I miss most about not having my mom nearby is that she knows how to make killer French toast. In Europe, you’ll find more savory French toast types than sweet ones, so when I moved to the US, I really didn’t like the French toast served here at first. But over time, I got accustomed to the flavors and got curious enough to try to develop my own killer recipe. This still isn’t quite my mom’s French toast (and probably never will be), but we still love eating it for brunch on a rainy Sunday morning!

Ingredients (for 2 – 3 people):

1/2 loaf of Challah or Broiche bread – other types of bread works as well, but these are best
3 -4 large organic eggs, beaten
1 cup of milk or half & half
1 teaspoon of sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla
a pinch of salt
grated fresh nutmeg to taste – be careful with this, as nutmeg has a very strong flavor
2 tablespoons of butter, more as needed
cooking spray
4 cups of organic strawberries (sliced) and blueberries
maple syrup to taste

 

Directions

1. Slice up the berries and set aside. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and mix the eggs, milk, sugar, vanilla, salt, and nutmeg in a large bowl.

2. Heat one tablespoon of butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Generously dip each slice in the egg mixture and add to the skillet. Repeat until the skillet is full. Turn each slice after a few minutes, or until each side turns to a light golden brown.

3. Add all slices to a foil covered baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray. Bake the toast at 350 for about 10 minutes.

4. Top each slice with berries and a drizzle of maple syrup when ready to serve. Brunch is done!

 Posted by at 8:05 PM
Apr 302012
 

This smoothie is great for breakfast early in the morning because it’s refreshing, healthy, energizing, and not too sweet! Perfect for summer!

Ingredients (for 1 smoothie):

1/2 cup of fresh pineapple chunks
1/2 cup of fresh sliced mango
1/4 cup of water
about 1/2 an inch cube of fresh ginger, peeled

Directions:

Simply throw all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Add a few ice cubes to cool this down even more and add more water if you like your smoothie a bit thinner.

 Posted by at 8:00 PM
Apr 302012
 

I love a good, hearty lasagna, but really only have time to make lasagna on weekends, since it takes a while to bake in the oven. And even then, who wants to spend all weekend in the kitchen? That’s exactly why I turned to cheese ravioli to speed up the lasagna making process. Here’s how it works:

The ravioli is basically a substitute for lasagna noodles and ricotta / whatever other type of cheese you like to use. I still use Parmesan and Mozzarella, because I like my lasagna cheese and veggie loaded. It does not matter what type of cheese ravioli you buy, as long as it’s the “jumbo” kind. The larger raviolis will make it easier to cut the lasagna into equal portions without making a total mess out of the dish. All the other ingredients are completely up to you! My favorite way to make this dish is with soy crumbs, lots of fresh garlic, spinach and a simple, homemade tomato sauce.


Directions:

1. Boil the ravioli and set aside.
2. In a large skillet, cook your meat with some chopped onions and olive oil. I often make my lasagna completely vegetarian by substituting Morningstar Farms veggie crumbles instead of meat. You could also go completely veggie by stir-frying some zucchini, spinach, and your other favorite veggies.
3. Mix your meat and veggies with tomato or marinara sauce and then layer a large, oven-proof casserole with the ravioli, then the tomato mixture, and then a thin layer of Parmesan and Mozzarella cheese. Keep repeating until all your ingredients are used up.
4. Bake the casserole at 350 for about 35 minutes, or until the cheese is nice and bubbly. Enjoy!

 Posted by at 7:50 PM
Feb 052012
 

This is one of my favorite dishes because it’s super quick & easy, fresh, pretty healthy (ok, fine, it’s got its share of butter!) and uses those amazing Meyer lemons I talked about in my previous post again. It also uses my absolute favorite butter: Kerrygold – a rich, creamy and all natural Irish butter that’s sold in many grocery stores. The Kerrygold website has some awesome recipes on it as well, so be sure to check that out, too: http://www.kerrygoldusa.com/recipes/.

Ingredients (for two people)

One bunch of broccolini
Grated zest of a lemon, plus a squeeze of lemon juice
4 tablespoons of Kerrygold Irish butter
Shaved Parmesan cheese (to garnish)
Salt and pepper to taste

 

Directions

1. Wash the broccolini and remove parts of the stem. Cut into smaller pieces if desired.

2. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a medium skillet and add the lemon zest and broccolini. Add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and saute for about 10 minutes.

3. Season with salt and pepper, the remaining butter, and the shaved Parmesan. Serve warm and enjoy with warm, crusty bread with more butter!

 Posted by at 2:28 PM
Feb 052012
 

Meyer lemon season generally runs from December to April and is one of my favorite seasons since I absolutely adore the fruit. Meyer lemons are a bit rounder, smaller, and sweeter than regular lemons and you can find them in many grocery stores. I decided to make a lemon olive chicken dish with my newly purchased lemons. Here is how I whipped this up:

Ingredients (for two people)

3 chicken breasts, sliced lengthwise in half
grated Meyer lemon zest of 1/2 lemon
1/2 lemon peel
1/4 cup Kalamata olives, sliced
1 cup chicken or vegetable broth
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
5 table spoons of olive oil
1 table spoon of butter
flour for dredging
salt and pepper to taste

 

Directions

1. Grate half the lemon and peel the other half. Set aside. Drain and slice the olives and finely chop the garlic.

2. Heat the olive oil o medium heat in a large skillet, slice and pat the chicken breasts dry.

3. Combine flour, salt, and pepper and dredge each halved chicken breast in the flour mixture. Lightly fry in the olive oil for a few minutes on each side, until the chicken is cooked through. Remove the chicken from the skillet.

4. Add the butter to the same skillet and once melted, add the garlic, lemon zest, peel, and olives. Sauté for a few minutes on medium heat and then add the chicken broth. Simmer for about 10 minutes until some of the liquid is absorbed and then add the chicken back in. Cook for a few minutes and server warm.

If you’ve got some cremini or white button mushrooms leftover, try adding them in as well by sautéing them with the lemon and olives. They make an excellent addition to this super fresh and easy dish!

 Posted by at 2:12 PM
Dec 042011
 

You might be more familiar with eating fennel in soups, but it’s actually quite amazing when braised or roasted as well. I experimented with fennel this past weekend and decided to go the nice and simple route by simply tossing the fennel with balsamic vinegar and olive oil. The house smelled amazing and we devoured this fabulous side dish in less than 15 minutes!

Ingredients (for 2 – 3 people)

2 medium sized fennel bulbs
4 tablespoons of high quality balsamic vinegar
5 tablespoons of olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Wash and cut the fennel into small (less than an inch thick) slices / rings and add to a large bowl.

2. Toss the slices with the balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt, and pepper and bake on a large baking sheet for about 40 to 45 minutes on 400 degrees.

3. Serve warm and toss with grated Parmesan cheese, your favorite sauce, or enjoy the fennel just plain out of the oven, as a satisfying side dish.

 

 Posted by at 2:03 PM
Dec 042011
 

As my fellow busy girls know, short-cuts are your best friend when you’re short on time. A few weeks ago, I really wanted to make samosas, but had no time to make the dough from scratch and had a ton of farm-fresh kale on hand that I really needed to use up. My solution: puff-pastry sheets and potato-kale filling! Although less authentic than the original version of the Indian samosa, it worked out fantastic. Here’s what I did:

Ingredients
(for 16 samosas)

2 puff pastry sheets (found in the freezer section of your grocery store)
2 medium organic Russet potatoes
half a bunch of organic kale
1 teaspoon of garam masala
1 teaspoon of turmeric powder
1 teaspoon of whole cumin seeds
2 teaspoons of coriander powder
2 teaspoons of red chili powder
2 teaspoons of ginger-garlic paste
2 tablespoons of olive oil (more as needed)
salt to taste


Directions

1. Take the puff pastry sheets out of the freezer to allow them to defrost. Boil potatoes (you can leave the skin on) and lightly mash them so they form small bite-size chunks. Wash and cut the kale into bite-size pieces as well.

2. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet or frying pan and saute the kale for about 10 minutes, or until soft.

3. Take the kale out and set aside. In the same oil, add the cumin seeds and fry for about 3 – 4 minutes. Add the ginger-garlic paste and the rest of the seasonings. Stir and add in the kale and boiled potatoes. Add salt last and saute for about 10 more minutes to allow all flavors to blend.

4. Turn off the heat and move the skillet to allow the filling to cool. Cut the puff pastry sheets into 8 triangles, as shown in the picture below. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

5. Make cone out of each triangle and spoon enough filling in so that the samosa will close without breaking. You can add a tiny bit of water to the edges of the triangles so that edges will stick more easily.

6. Place each samosa on a parchment lined backing sheet and bake at 400 degrees for about 15 to 20 minutes. Serve warm with your favorite chutney!

 

 Posted by at 1:47 PM